In the middle Devonian Period Ohio was covered by the sea. Because the sea floor was extremely muddy as creatures sank to the bottom, it was a perfect situation for fossilization to occur. The Silica Formation of northwest Ohio is the result of the marine deposits from the middle Devonian, leaving remarkably well-preserved fossils. According to paleontologists and amateur collectors, their preservation ranks as the best in the world. Within the shale are found corals, brachiopods, echinoderms, and trilobites, such as my phacops rana millieri below. The quarries in which they are found, unlike many fossil sites, are accessible and open to the public at no admission fee. Though the Hanson quarry is now closed, quarry workers have provided shale from the Silica Formation for what has become Sylvania Ohio’s Fossil Park. Truckloads of relatively soft, gray shale from the Hanson quarry are dumped into an area where the public can split the shale and find the same fossils in the Hanson and other quarries. In fact, collectors are guaranteed that they will find brachiopods and corals, if not trilobites (which are quickly gathered up). Nevertheless, with hard work and a careful eye, you can still find trilobites, too. Beneath the photo of my phacops rana milleri, is a map of the fossil park’s location in Sylvania Ohio.
Note: To zoom in and out, click on the photo below: